Technology is a part of our culture and our families that is here to stay and I don’t think that is necessarily bad. When we set guidelines and boundaries within our families, as outlined in our Family Tech Rules Post, technology can have a lot of benefits. Yet, when we talk about technology, it goes beyond TV watching and video games. We must also consider social media for kids. Social media has proven to be an amazing resource for good in our world. I’ve seen social media unite and rally people around a cause or prayer need like nothing else. However, I also know there are many negatives to social media for kids; cases of bullying, inappropriate content and pictures and child predators.
Why My Kid Doesn’t Have Social Media
I have a variety of social media accounts and enjoy them for various reasons, but even I can struggle with some of the challenges social media presents. Like many moms, I can find myself playing the comparison game and feeling bad about myself when my life doesn’t look “Pinterest perfect”. Knowing how social media can undermine the confidence of many adults is why I’m surprised when I see young kids who have access to social media, and why I’ve decided I’m not allowing my 13 year old daughter to have any of them.
Social Media for Kids Recommendations and Laws
Honestly, social media really shouldn’t be a part of your kids life before the age of 13 no matter what. It is not only NOT recommended for children under that age to have social media accounts, it is in violation of many of the social sites policies and in some cases is technically breaking the law according to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (AKA COPPA – if you would like to know more click HERE to go to the COPPA website)
Facebook’s terms and conditions actually state “You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.” Yet, despite this fact, more than 38% of kids on Facebook are under the age of 13. When a child creates a Facebook profile, they have to attest to the fact that they’re at least 13 years of age. So, if you have a child under the age of 13 who you have knowingly allowed to have a FB account, what you’re saying to your kid is that rules and even laws don’t matter. In your mind maybe it’s just a little thing, Facebook, I mean it’s not like you gave them alcohol or helped them cheat on school work, right? Wrong. Either we follow the rules or we don’t. Kids lack the ability to discern which are big rules and which are small ones and overall, we’re sending them the message that the rules don’t apply to them. If we’re concerned about an entitlement generation, here is where it starts.
PINTEREST – “Any use or access by anyone under the age of 13 is prohibited”
INSTAGRAM – “You must be at least 13 years old to use the Service”
YOUTUBE – “In order to create a YouTube account, we require users to confirm that they are at least 13 yrs old. Users who enter any age younger than 13 will be prohibited from creating YouTube accounts.”
Why Even Though She Is 13, I Still Said “NO” to Social Media for My Daughter
My daughter really wanted a Pinterest account. It seemed like the most harmless of the social media offerings, so I said I’d consider it and get back to her. The more I thought about it, the less inclined I was to let her open an account. Even if you’re not looking for it, a lot of inappropriate images can appear in your home feed. Plus, Pinterest began allowing advertising, which means there is even less monitoring of what content appears now.
I discussed Pinterest with some fellow tween/teen moms and a few stories that were shared helped in my decision making. One in particular was a friend who told me about her 12 year old daughter’s experience with Pinterest. The mom began to notice that her daughter would pin things and then check to see how many “likes” her pins received, or if her friends were repinning them. When there was little or no response, she would pin new things and again wait to see what others thought of them.
Before you get all judgmental and label it a problem unique to this girl, let me remind you, she’s 12. Do you remember 12? 12 is middle school. Middle school is a 3 year trial of insecurity, self doubt, rejection, hormones, emotions, and raw feelings. Everyone experiences self esteem issues, from the popular kids to the ones that just blend in with the crowd. My friend saw her daughter struggling with herself, with questioning her value in a new way and decided that Pinterest wasn’t something she was ready for, her daughter agreed with little complaint.
These early teen years are hard enough to navigate, as parents , why should we allow yet another platform for insecurity and doubt? I’m definitely not a parent that believes in keeping life lessons and natural consequences from my kids, but social media is another layer that doesn’t have to be included in their life during middle school and certainly not in elementary school. There is plenty of teasing and taunting that happens, plenty of questioning and rejection in real life that I’m not able to keep from her. My daughter’s life is full of enough input without free access to social media.
Yes, she grumbled at first, but honestly, I think she’s relieved when she can just tells her friends that her mean ol’ parents won’t let her have it. She gets to maintain her martyr image and my hubs and I don’t care if the kids think we’re uncool because we’re not in middle school anymore!
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So what are your thoughts, is social media a part of your young child’s life?